It’s been called not just the most beautiful competition car of all time, but also the most beautiful car of all time, period. The Lancia Stratos, with a V6 Ferrari Dino engine at its heart, was designed for competition and only then adapted for the road, in a perfect example of form following function. In the same way, Pirelli was asked to create bespoke tyres for the Bertone-designed car: the resulting P7 became the world’s very first low-profile tyre – to improve handling – which is now the industry standard for high performance.
The car won three world rally championship titles in the 1970s and continued to win right up until the 1980s: its last world rally win was the 1981 Tour de Corse, in the hands of Frenchman Bernard Darniche.
And it’s another Frenchman who is ensuring that its competition legacy lives on. Former F1® driver Erik Comas is using a Pirelli-backed Stratos on the FIA European Historic Rally Championship this year, running on P7 Corsa Classic tyres: an updated version of the originals.
Even though the championship is open to cars manufactured right up to 1989, Comas and his stunning Stratos have every possibility to star at the front. The principles that guided the car when it was announced in 1970 – minimal mass, direct handling, perfect weight distribution and a low centre of gravity – are just as valid now as they were back then.